Our NFL betting writer brings you his best Buccaneers vs. Cardinals predictions and picks for their NFL Week 16 primetime showdown, which is live Sunday at 8:20 p.m. on NBC.
This game is not the Christmas present we were hoping to receive. The underperforming Buccaneers head to the desert to take on the unraveling Cardinals in “Sunday Night Football.”
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Cardinals vs Buccaneers predictions and analysis
After last week’s 34-23 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Bucs (6-8) lead the division no one wants to win, the NFC South, by just one game over the other three teams. Tom Brady helped the Bucs take a 17-0 lead before the defense crumbled, unable to stop Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ dynamic passing game. Tampa is now 1-3 since its bye week and the South could be decided by the two impending division games against Carolina and Atlanta.
Few teams have it worse than the Cardinals (4-10), who will give Trace McSorley his first NFL start on Sunday after another quarterback falls. With Kyler Murray already out for the season with a torn ACL, the Cardinals lost Colt McCoy to a concussion in last week’s 24-15 loss to the Denver Broncos. Arizona is in shock, with just one win in its last seven games.
In limited action against the Broncos, McSorley managed to throw interceptions on just 7 of 15 passes.
The Penn State product had only played a few games with the Baltimore Ravens before coming to Arizona. While it should help to have offensive playmakers like DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown, it hasn’t been easy for the Cardinals this season, even when Murray was healthy.
The Buccaneers are angry after a missed lead at Cincinnati and an ugly second straight loss, and we think they’ll be ready to take out their frustration on a lesser opponent. The Bucs haven’t always beaten the teams they were “supposed” to beat this season, but Brady and co. won’t be bothered by the Arizona defense, which let Brett Rypien complete 80.8 percent of his shots.
Brady, even in the midst of his worst season, is more trustworthy than McSorley. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.
Take: Buccaneers to win (-7.5) at -110 with Caesars Sportsbook
Buccaneers score 26+ points +104
Caesars allows you to DIY certain accessories to your liking, especially with the alternate points slider.
While betting on the Buccaneers to score over 23.0 only returns a -160 line, moving that O/U slider to 26.0 makes the “over” number more attractive at +104.
The Cardinals have the worst defense in the league, giving up 26.6 points per game. A Broncos team led by Rypien and Latavius Murray managed to score 24 last week, and the opponents have scored at least 27 points over Arizona five times in its last eight outings.
While the Buccaneers are 4-10-0 in O/U this season, the Cardinals’ games have been over eight times, due more to porous Arizona defense than points that a Murray in good health could accumulate.
Take: Buccaneers to score over 26.0 points @ +104 with Caesars Sportsbook
Betting on the NFL?
The Cardinals commit a turnover on their first drive +625
Who knows what Kliff Kingsbury’s early game scenario for McSorley’s first start will entail? It would be wise to run the ball and aim for positive plays, but the Cardinals only ran it 22 times against New England two weeks ago – the game Murray was injured and McCoy came on – and 20 times last week.
If the Cardinals continue to rely on the passing game, it opens up a greater likelihood of an early interception, especially against a Buccaneers defense that was formidable. Tampa Bay has generated just 13 takeouts this season, among the fewest in the NFL, but managed to knock out Burrow and land seven QB hits on him last week.
The most likely result of Arizona’s opener is a punt, which is why it’s by far the shortest odds at -265. The Cardinals haven’t shown they’re capable of scoring a touchdown in the first set of games this year, so a turnover would be the more exciting option. And it happened just three weeks ago when James Conner fumbled on the Cardinals’ first possession against the Chargers.
Take: Cardinals commit first drive turnover @ +625
Cardinals vs. Buccaneers Odds
Odds provided by Caesars Sportsbook. Correct at time of publication and subject to change.
|Total points 40.5
|More than -110
|Less than -110